Slow Cooker Recipe: Clam Chowder. From scratch with whole ingredients.  |  Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos by Lindsey Johnson of Café Johnsonia.

It’s St. Patrick’s Day today! Perhaps you’re cooking up a batch of Slow Cooker Corned Beef & Cabbage? Well, speaking of slow cooker meals, I have another recipe in my slow-cooker series to share today and it’s a classic: Clam Chowder!

Do you have a chowder-loving family? We seem to like every variation — potato chowder, corn chowder, and especially clam chowder. If we’re at a restaurant and clam chowder is on the menu, there’s a very high chance that I’ll order at least a cup of it. So it’s a no brainer that we would like to make it at home as well.

One new take on it now that we live in the Bay Area is serving it in sourdough bread bowls — it’s a San Francisco tradition! Since sourdough bread bowls are so easy to come by here, they’re a happy addition to our menu, but it’s certainly not a necessity. When we didn’t live here, we ate our clam chowder from bowls served with oyster crackers, crusty baguette, or even soda crackers on the side.

Slow Cooker Recipe: Clam Chowder. From scratch with whole ingredients.  |  Design Mom

Making clam chowder in the slow cooker takes a little longer, but allows the flavors to meld nicely — and there’s that bonus of prepping it in the morning and not having to think about it again till dinner. It’s super easy to put together. The only fancy ingredient is the clam juice, which isn’t 100% necessary, but adds more flavor. The bacon adds a little smokiness that goes well with the clams. Make sure to check out the notes below for variations and other tips for our very favorite clam chowder.

Also, I’m curious as can be: do you prefer Manhattan Clam Chowder (pink) or Boston Clam Chowder (white)?

Click for the recipe and tips!

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A Few Things

March 14, 2014

ferry building and fiat

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends. We made it through another week — and some of us did it with a time change! Good job, everyone. I think we all deserve a really good weekend. : ) Maude has a track meet on Saturday, but other than that, we’re keeping things low-key. I’m sure there will be errands as usual, some work on the house (an electrician is coming on Saturday morning), and I’m hoping we can explore a new restaurant or two.

Last Friday, for Ben Blair’s birthday we took a food tour of The Mission district of San Francisco with some friends. Our second stop on the tour was a Vietnamese market where we ate a couple of different kinds of Bahn Mi sandwiches. They were my first bahn mi and I can’t stop thinking about them. So dang good! All week, we’ve been asking friends and neighbors for bahn mi recommendations here in Oakland, so we have a source closer to home. I think we’ll scope out a few places this weekend and see if we can find a favorite. How about you? Any fun plans?

While I finish up my work for the week, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

- Legos for Good. Thanks, Yvonne.

- Genius! Ping pong ball café lights.

- Maude found this one: What Languages Sound Like to Foreigners.

- An art collection + 3 kidsThanks, Allysha.

- I’m not bossy. I’m the boss.

- How Anthropologie searches out cool products in Africa. Thanks, Jeannine.

- A cozy nursery in an unusually shaped room.

- I love the idea of making 3 specific spring goals.

- Happy Pi Day!

- Are public schools disappearing?

- Colin Powell’s selfie from 60 year’s ago.

- Tiny, adventurous Mini-Fig photographers. Love this! Thanks, Leah.

- St. Patrick’s Day is on Monday! I shared these last week, but I’m re-sharing in case you missed — 7 cute St. Patrick’s Day crafts for kids. Plus, 11 really good recipes for your St. Patrick’s Day dinner!

I hope you have a happy weekend. I’m wishing you wonderful weather. I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.

kisses,
Gabrielle

P.S. — The photo at top is from a mid-week date I had with my sisters, Jordan and Liz. One of the best things about our move to Oakland is getting to meet those two for lunch.

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Olive Juice Kids Giveaway

March 13, 2014

DMgiveawayBanner

By Gabrielle.

Oh goody! This is a giveaway from Olive Juice Kids for a $150 gift certificate. Which is perfect timing! Spring holidays are coming up and I’m betting your kids could use something fresh in their closet — for vacation, for Easter, for Passover — or simply for the warmer weather that comes with the changing season.

olive juice kids spring 2014

Olive Juice has been a fantastic sponsor of Design Mom for the past few years, so if you’ve been reading for awhile, you may be familiar with their classic, high quality pieces. Their designs are consistently beautiful, with attention to detail and style that will last. I simply love their clothes!

If you’re looking for something with a European feel, something that feels unusual, Olive Juice will have the perfect thing. Take a look at their LookBook for inspiration! Best of all, their clothes truly are made to be worn by kids — the cuts and materials are comfortable and realistic. Right now, I’m shopping for Easter clothes and I’m nuts for the Amelie Dress, the Sweater Dress, the Liberty Print Annie Dress, and the Dropwaist Dress. So many pretty options!

Visit Olive Juice Kids and leave a comment below to enter. I’d love to know what you’re shopping for these days — a family portrait? an event? or maybe your child’s wardrobe just needs some fresh pieces? The winner will be announced on Monday. Good luck!

——

Lara Schultz is the lucky winner. Thanks for playing!

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Lobbying

March 13, 2014

Washington Monument

Images and text by Gabrielle.

I’ve been meaning to write up a little post about what I was doing in Washington D.C. a week and a half ago. It was a short trip, but an exciting one! The first day was spent learning about initiatives and government programs that ONE.org is supporting — specifically, we learned a lot about the Electrify Africa bill.

The short story is that 70% of people living in Sub-Saharan Africa don’t have electricity. Here in the U.S., electricity is practically a human right — so it took me a minute for the reality of no electricity, and what that means for the people there, to sink in. No way to power a cell phone, a computer, the internet — and without those, it’s almost impossible for people to make economic progress and pull themselves out of poverty. No lights for students to take classes or study after sundown. Women giving birth in the dark without access to life-saving medical equipment. No electricity to power machines, so businesses can’t scale well. No feeling safe outside at night.

No electricity! It’s so hard to even imagine. I mean, even when I go camping I use electricity — at the very least for my phone and my lanterns and flashlights. One little tidbit we learned? The Dallas Cowboy’s stadium uses more electricity on game day than the entire country of Liberia uses on the same day. Insane!

But the problem is actually more stunning than that. In homes without electricity, kerosene is the fuel used for light at night. But. The fumes from the kerosene are so harmful that they are responsible for more deaths than AIDS/HIV and malaria combined!!! Just nuts, right?

That’s where the Electrify Africa bill comes is.

Click to read more and find out what it was like to lobby Nancy Pelosi!

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Coloring Books 2.0

March 12, 2014

Design Mom's 9 Favorite Modern Coloring Books. They're all super cool.

By Gabrielle.

I was doing a bit of organizing in the studio/home office last weekend and noticed we have accumulated quite the collection of really good coloring books and doodle books. Have you noticed how many awesome options are out there these days? It’s like a coloring book renaissance!

These are not the commercial character driven coloring books of my childhood, they’re created by artists and graphic designers and some of the very best publishing houses. They are really good looking! Some focus on patterns, others include prompts to spur imaginative drawing. And many of these books are designed to appeal to both children and adults. In fact, I’ve heard some people are using the mandala coloring books as a sort of soothing therapy! Coloring in the spaces seems to hit a sweet spot between mindless busy work and intense creativity.

Lately, one of our favorite go-to gifts is a coloring book paired with a new set of markers. Easy, fun, and it doesn’t break the bank. We also like to pull them out on slow afternoons for a quiet, calming activity. Taking some time to sit with my kids and color is delightful, and it provides a great space for casual, non-lecture conversation.

In case you’d like to get in on the coloring action, I’ve collected our very favorites here. If you have a favorite that’s not on this list, please feel free to share! We’re always on the lookout for new ones. And I’d love to hear if you ever get to color with your kids. Do they like to color? Do you?

1) Doodles. This one is by Taro Gomi and he has a ton of other great options as well! I think of Taro Gomi as the grandfather of all the good coloring books.

2) Zolocolor. There are several of these, all good.

3)  The Usborne Book of Drawing, Doodling and Coloring.

4)  Dragon, Robot, Gatorbunny.

5) Photoplay.

6)  Outside the Lines.

7) Doodle Cook. By French artist, Hervé Tullet. And if you like it, you could also try The Coloring Book and The Scribble Book.

8)  Pattern + Design.

9)  Rosie Flo’s Coloring Book — there are at least 6 versions of these.

P.S. — We also like to use these on flights and at church, when the kids need something quiet but entertaining.

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By Gabrielle. Baby Deer sculpture via Etsy.

Carly, like many moms, had it all planned out: an unmedicated birth, followed immediately with skin to skin contact and breastfeeding. It sounded lovely. But as we’ve all probably learned on far too many occasions, the best laid plans often go awry. Add in an unsupportive nurse, and even the most positive and excited woman among us might get a bit thrown off course. It happens.

But what Carly’s story reminds us is that it happens — yes, it happens — and then we go on, doing what we need to do for the ones who need us most, even if it’s a little later or a little differently than we had originally planned. That’s motherhood, isn’t it? Friends, I hope you enjoy Carly’s story about great expectations not coming true. (Spoiler alert: The actual ending, as it happened, is pretty great, too.) Welcome, Carly!

Before I get started, I have to tell you that this boy has the softest cheeks in the world. And he does this sleepy sunflower thing where he’ll move his head so that his face is always facing mine, no matter how I’m holding him. I’m telling you this because if you’re on the fence about having children, I don’t want you to read this birth story and decide that you’re better off with a goldfish. So when I get to the part where I thought I was actually going to not survive his delivery, remember the cheeks and the sunflower face thing.

The rest of the story, straight ahead.

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By Gabrielle.

Carla sent me the most stunning photos of her home, and I loved every single one. But then she wrote back right away and asked “Did I erase too much of my kids in those photos?” That was something she didn’t want to do, no matter how gorgeous the pictures. I assured her we would understand, especially since there are a lot of good ideas to take from this tour.

Like the large table just behind the couch, perfect for projects and so much more useful with kids than a simple sofa table, right? Or the floor-length tablecloth on the dining table; how many instant forts do you think Evelyn and Wren enjoy on a daily basis? Oh, and the master tub. Yes, I believe living with kids would be so much fun – especially at bath time – in a home like the Macklin’s. You’ll see, I hope! Friends, please enjoy the tour!

Q: Please tell us all about this pattern-perfect family!

A: Our family includes my husband, Craig, six-year old Evelyn, three-year old Wren, and Cali the mutt. Craig works for a thriving manufacturing company here in Cleveland selling vibrators of the industrial sort. He is an ever-faithful supporter of the Cleveland Browns and is dreaming of summertime when the golf course isn’t covered by deep snow. I’m continually amazed at his puzzle proficiency and his willingness to try the most unusual foods. I’ve known Craig since we were 15 and both competitive swimmers, a hobby both of us have happily dropped after too many years breathing chlorine.

Evelyn is absorbing every bit of information she can in Kindergarten and loves ice skating, swimming, and crafts. Wren is into puzzles like her dad and is begging for gymnastic lessons. The girls are usually great friends when they aren’t bickering over who is the kid in the make believe game they call “Kid.” Cali, the chocolate lab mix, is our neglected first-born, adopted immediately after leaving San Francisco eight years ago.

The tub and all the rest is just so, so pretty. Go see!

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Daylight Savings Time

March 10, 2014

laying VCT tile

By Gabrielle. Image of me snapped by Ben Blair.

I am up to my ears in floor glue! Which is a good thing! We started the floors in the boys room late last night (see above), and this morning I hope to finish things up. The glue is setting as I type. In fact, this is just a quick post, because as soon as it’s ready, I’ll need to start laying that tile!

Part of the reason we were working late into the night was the time switch. I swear, my body treats Daylight Savings Time like full-on jet lag. I couldn’t fall asleep. You too?

I’m always so curious about Daylight Savings Time. I can never quite understand who is benefitting from the time switch and why we do it at all. I’ve heard that it was originally instituted to help farmers, but I’ve never bothered to look up the history. One thing I do look up every once in awhile when the hour switches, is which time is considered “normal”. Meaning, if there was no Daylight Savings Time, what time would it be right now? Are we currently on regular time, or are we on altered time? I’ve learned this many times, but clearly, it hasn’t stuck with me.

Fun fact: France participates in Daylight Savings Time, but the country doesn’t make the switch at the same time as the U.S.. So, when we were living there, we were usually 6 hours ahead of the East Coast, but for a couple of weeks, it would be 5 hours.

From my point of view, it seems like the disadvantages (more accidents happen on Daylight Savings time change weeks because of over-tiredness, plus retraining my kids’ sleep habits twice a year is a downer at best) have surpassed the advantages. But I freely admit, I don’t actually understand what the advantages are supposed to be. I’m hoping someone reading is a big fan of the time change and can explain to me why it’s an important tradition and the positive impact it has.

What’s your experience? Do you have strong feelings about Daylight Savings Time? Or maybe you live somewhere that doesn’t participate (Hello, Arizona!)? If you have kids, how do they react? Have you figured out tricks to master the time change right away? I’d love to hear.

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A Few Things

March 7, 2014

colorful bunting

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! How are you doing? Was it a good week for you? At our house it was one of our family’s birthday weeks — Maude’s birthday was on Tuesday, and Ben Blair’s birthday is today! This evening, we are celebrating by taking a foodie tour of The Mission district in the city. Should be really fun! My gift to Ben: taking care of the school prep routines this morning so that he could sleep in. : ) On Saturday, we’ll be running errands and hopefully making some progress in the long-stalled boy’s room renovation. How about you? Any weekend plans?

Friends, I want to tell you how impactful your comments on my Mental Health Update were. Each one was a reminder of how kind and supportive and smart and compassionate the members of this community are. For those of you in the middle of your own struggles (isn’t that everybody?), know that I’m thinking of you and wishing you health and peace. I can’t thank you enough for your kind words.

On a much lighter note, here are a few things I’ve been wanting to share with you:

- Bono’s rejection letter. Via Jesse.

- Woah. This new speed reading technology kind of blows my mind.

- Hey there musical lovers, here’s a trailer for a modern re-telling of Annie.

- A loonng article about the history of cool girls. I’d love to hear what you think of it.

- This memorial in Norway — I can’t stop thinking about it.

- A shared room for two little sisters.

- I’m floored by this article about fraternities. My university didn’t have fraternities so I’m unfamiliar with them. I confess, they’ve held a vague romantic mystery for me over the years, but now I’m quite disturbed. It’s a long article — you might want to bookmark it for later.

- I’m starting to think about sandals. I want something really simple like this — preferably picked up on a trip to Spain. : ) These are great too.

- Did you see this British Kevin Bacon ad?

- Oscar-winner Lupita Nuyong’o gave an incredible speech on beauty. Thanks Shannon.

- This looks cool: turn anything into a sippy cup.

- My Babble posts this week: St. Patrick’s Day crafts for kids — 7 cute ideas! Plus, 11 really good recipes for your St. Patrick’s Day dinner.

- Oh. And one more — simple ideas for celebrating Spring Equinox. (Can you believe Spring is really coming? Winter hit the U.S. hard this year.)

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.

kisses,
Gabrielle

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Ela & Glo Giveaway

March 6, 2014

DMgiveawayBanner

By Gabrielle.

I’m so pleased about today’s giveaway — it’s a chance to introduce you to a new-to-me shop called Ela & Glo! Ela & Glo offers a hand-picked selection of home decor items, beauty products, and gifts for both children and adults. The prize they’re offering is a super generous $200 store credit! So you have the freedom of picking whatever you like.

elaandglo spring 2014

Something really neat about Ela & Glo is that the business is run by a mother-daughter team, and the online shop has a brick-and-mortar version in Argentina. Isn’t that fantastic? Eliana and Gloria work together to find and sell products that their families truly enjoy. They offer stylish clothing, the sweetest baby gifts, charming accessories for the home, and so much more!

If I won, I would be tempted by the mini cupcake stands, these adorable ballet flats (only $22!), the handsome Stockholm tote, and something from Tokyo Milk (I love their scents!).

Visit Ela & Glo and leave a comment below to enter — I’d love to hear if this shop is new to you, too. The winner will be announced on Monday. Good luck!

——-

Jenny Also is the lucky winner. Thanks for playing!

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Image and text by Gabrielle.

Oh my! This episode of Olive Us, called How to Visit a French Market, makes me homesick for France like crazy. The market in our town took place at the base of the local cathedral, which made for a magnificent backdrop while we picked out our vegetables. But the coolest thing, is that the market had been taking place in that same spot, by that same cathedrals for centuries. Literally centuries!

Catherdral + Market in Argentan France

In fact, early on in our stay we stopped at a vide grenier (a town yard sale) and found this very old lithograph showing our very same cathedral with a market scene happening. Isn’t that the coolest? It’s one of my favorite souvenirs from our time in France. You can see more closeups of the print here and here. (Bonus: is was 2 euros.)

Related to shopping at the market, for months I’ve been working on a separate post about French food — what we missed, what habits we’ve continued since we got back — that sort of thing. I don’t know why it’s taking me so long to finish it up. I suppose it’s partly because I keep getting emotional when I work on it. : ) Anyway, shopping at the market featured in this video is definitely one of the things I miss. We went dozens and dozens of times and it never lost its charm.

I hope you enjoy the video! And I’d love to know: Do you have access to a good local market where you live? There are great ones here in Oakland and we love when we make time to go. And if you’ve been to France, did you get the chance to visit an outdoor market?

P.S. — Would you like to know more about Olive Us? Here you go:

- Olive Us has a really charming Instagram stream. You should totally subscribe!
- Find the official Olive Us website here, and subscribe to the Olive Us Newsletter here.

- Find all the posts I’ve written about Olive Us — including every episode — here.
- We’ve made 44 episodes so far and collaborated with ulive on 20 of them! You can find the Olive Us page on ulive here.

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Mental Health Update

March 5, 2014

George_H._Brimhall

By Gabrielle. Photo of George H. Brimhall (see the P.S. for relevance).

A little warning, this post is really long. : )

On Valentine’s Day weekend we ended up throwing 3 parties. Maude had friends over on Friday night — a little “GALantine’s” gathering with a pretty dessert table and chick flicks. Then on Saturday night, Ralph went to “Mormon Prom” a formal dance for LDS high school kids in the Bay Area who are 16 years old or older. We made corsages for the girls, and after the dance, the kids came to our house to hang out and have rootbeer floats. Then on Sunday, we hosted a “Policeman Party” for our nephew’s 4th birthday. And since there was no school on Monday, we had a sleepover for 3 of the cousins. (Sometime, I need to tell you more about the policeman party. It was a cute one.)

At some point, I turned to Ben Blair and said, can you believe this? Two months ago it took everything in me to get a Christmas Tree, and this weekend we threw 3 parties and are ready for more! I’m doing so much better!

So this post is a mental health report. I’ve been very open over the past several months about the status of my brain, and I’ve received dozens of emails from readers wondering how I knew my head wasn’t working right, how I recognized when to go to the doctor, and how the medication was working. Obviously, everyone who has experienced a downturn in their mental health has their own story, but here’s mine, in case it helps.

Click here for the whole story.

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DIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photography and assistance by Gina Vide of Willowday.

My girls have worn their hair long — shoulder length or longer — for years now. It wasn’t always so, and I’m sure it won’t always be so. But for now, like many families, we keep a generous stash of hair bands in our bathroom drawer ready to secure hair into ponytails, braids, and buns as needed. So when my friend Gina from Sweden sent me a photo of wooden bead hair ties she’d made, I had to get in on the action too! They work just like a standard rubberband — you put them on with a typical figure 8 twist, then adjust them so the beads are on top. The beads are such simple accent, but they add loads of charming personality!

Of course, they remind me of the hair bobbles of my childhood — with colorful plastic balls at the ends. But these are much gentler on your hair and more modern looking. Plus, you can make them in any color you like!

DIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design Mom DIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design Mom

I think a small box with 3 or 4 of these would make such a sweet gift. You could create them in springtime colors and include them in an Easter basket. Or they would be wonderful to make a birthday party — a happy little activity that guests can make and use right away.

DIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design Mom

I’m just crazy about the contrast of the glittery band or colorful shiny elastic against raw wood. If you prefer a glossier look, you could paint the beads to match or compliment the elastics. The combinations are endless. These hair twists are easy to make; fun to make alone or with friends on a craft night!

DIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design Mom DIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design Mom DIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design Mom

A special touch for the girls in your house — and for yourself as well. Let’s start making!

Click here for the full tutorial.

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By Gabrielle.

One of Rachel‘s mottos is “I’ve never met a color I didn’t love.” With one peek of her home, I know she’s not kidding. It’s a bright, cheerful space that makes me smile, and I know it must have the same effect on her family. And at the risk of getting too deep, I imagine it helps her stay positive when life doesn’t exactly go the way she’s been dreaming. Does your home do that, too? I hope it does.

There were a few times when I found myself pointing to something in her photos that I thought was super cute, only to find that it’s available in her shop! How wonderful and empowering it must be to live among your own art and makes. Friends, I’m so happy to introduce you to Rachel and her color-burst home!

Q: Please tell us all about your family.

A: There’s three humans and two canines in our little family. I’m Rachel Shingleton, and I’m a blogger/designer/shopkeeper at Pencil Shavings Studio. My husband is Simon, and he’s a realtor here in OKC. Our son Jude is a six year old kindergartener, and we like to say that he’s running for mayor of life. He’s never met a stranger, and is the absolute joy of our lives. And rounding out the craziness are two chihuahua puppies that we just added to the family back in October.

We’ve always lived in Oklahoma City (with a yearlong stint in California for me in college), and we grew up together in the same school starting in first grade. We didn’t start dating until our senior year of college at the University of Oklahoma.

More color to meet and love, coming up next!

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Slow Cooker Corned Beef & Cabbage. So good you will work this into your monthly rotation.   |   Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos by Lindsey of Café Johnsonia.

Today, I’m delighted to share the second recipe in my Slow Cooker Series. This one is especially timed for March, and St. Patrick’s Day!

Do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Or maybe you have some Irish ancestry? Or perhaps you just love Ireland — its people, culture, and food? Then this recipe is for you! But it’s not just for green-themed holidays. This menu is delicious any time of year you’re craving something hearty and warming.

As for the Blairs, we’ve heard our surname is English, Scottish, or Irish — maybe it’s all three! I know there is a Blair Tartan. In fact, when we were newlyweds, I wove Ben a sturdy wool scarf in the Blair Tartan pattern. I also know there is a Blair Castle in Scotland, so I mostly associate the name as Scottish.

That said, our kids feel much more connected to Ireland. Partly because in both New York and France they happened to make friends with Irish expat families, and partly because of our trip there. It was almost a year ago exactly — we arrived in Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day! If you like, you can see images from our trip here.

How about you? Does your family feel any connection to Ireland?

Slow Cooker Corned Beef, Cabbage & Carrots. So good you will work this into your monthly rotation.   |   Design Mom Slow Cooker Corned Beef & Cabbage. So good you will work this into your monthly rotation.   |   Design Mom

Now back to the menu. It’s a classic combo and it’s easy as can be, I promise! My recommendation? Make a big batch and have friends over for a St. Patrick’s Day dinner party, or work this into your monthly recipe rotation. You won’t be disappointed.

And now to the recipe: Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

Click for the recipe and tips!

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A Few Things

February 28, 2014

the treehouse in the rain

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! How are you? I had a really good week and hope you did too. This weekend we have zero plans, which feels amazing! I’m sure it will fill up with this and that — maybe even a little road trip. But for now it’s so refreshing to look at the calendar and see blank days. : ) How about you? Anything exciting going on at your house? Will you be greeting March with open arms?

While I think about what the ideal Blair Family Weekend might look like, here are a few things I thought you might enjoy:

- Am I the last to see these frozen lighthouses? They look like some sort of fantasy creations — like they could only exist in Narnia or Middle Earth.

Things said to or about my adopted daughters. This broke my heart. The words we use matter.

- Apparently you can knit scarves using your arms!

- Have you heard about Learn the Address?

- A shared room for 2 little sisters.

- Another Ben & Ralph Blair collaboration. This one might be the funniest.

- A great list, but number one is my favorite.

- Are you doing anything fun for the Oscars? Here are pretty e-invitations for a last-minute party at home.

- Have you noticed this selfie trend? I love it!

-  A gorgeous promo video for the upcoming book “The Meaning of Maggie” has me counting down the days until it comes out.

- All about Oakland.

- It’s National Eating Disorder Awareness Week — here’s a petition I can get behind.

- Sometimes I completely forget about my favorite websites, and then I stumble back upon them and get lost.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.

kisses,
Gabrielle

P.S. — I have LOVED your comments this week. Thank you for sharing your experiences and thoughts. There are very few things I like more than reading what you have to say. More fun to come next week — I want to tell you about my trip to D.C. and I hope to share a mental health update as well.

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Alt Summit Summer

February 28, 2014

Ben Silbermann and Gabrielle Blair. Alt Summit Keynote, January 2014.

By Gabrielle. Images by Justin Hackworth for Alt Summit.

For those of you who follow along on my Alt Summit adventures (I’m one of the founders of Alt Summit), I’ve got some big news. We’re experimenting with a major schedule change this year. Instead of holding a mid-size conference in New York and San Francisco, we’re going to host a second flagship event in Salt Lake City — Alt SLC Summer!

Click here to learn more — and to see a few more photos of me interviews Ben Silbermann of Pinterest.

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dblf-bell-hooks-1988-BWPhoto

By Gabrielle. Image of bell hooks — if you know the photographer, please share.

February is quickly coming to a close, but before it’s officially over, I wanted to feature some of the best articles and bits of history related to Black History Month and racism that I’ve read this month. I’ve basically relied on Kelly Wickham as my source — she’s a genius and she’s done a fantastic job highlighting essays and blog posts over the past few weeks. I highly recommend following her.

I suppose racism is always a topic on the minds of Americans, but it has especially been in my brain since Ralph and Maude started attending our public high school here in Oakland — a school with only a small percentage of white students, which is new experience for them. I grill my kids with questions about it: How often does race come up? How often does racial stereotyping happen? What kind of language do teenagers here use to discuss race? I get a little obsessed. It’s just that I want to be actively engaged in raising kids who will help eradicate racism in our country — I assume most parents feel the same way. But sometimes it’s hard to know where to start, and how to get it right.

Here are three of the things I made note of this month:

It’s Not About You, and other adventures in privilege.

“Whiteness is the reason that when I see a Muslim character on television, they’re more likely to be a terrorist than a love interest. Whiteness is incredibly problematic and we can and should question it and the ways in which it affects and harms people of colour. Because that’s what it’s about, see – not making white people feel bad, not white guilt or white-shaming or reverse racism. It’s about tearing off the shackles that bind us.”

- bell hooks. An author I haven’t read, but now want to. I plan to start with All About Love.

- The Blacked Out History tumblr. Really well done snippets of history. I learned about Maroon Communities which I had never heard of, and the 10 demands of the Black Panthers.

UPDATE: A reader named April commented below and recommended two more blog posts that I found really compelling. I’m adding them here so you won’t miss them:

- For Whites (Like Me).

- How White People Will Ignore Obama’s Speech on Zimmerman.

- There have also been 3 mentions of the book, NurtureShock in the comments — specifically the third chapter titled “Why White Parents Don’t Talk About Race”.

Tell me, Friends, how do you teach your children about race and racism? Is it something you discuss as a family? Any related links you’ve come across this month? I’d love to hear.

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Resident of California

February 26, 2014

Washington DC in the Snow

Photo and text by Gabrielle.

I like to listen to NPR when I’m in the car, and during the local news updates when a story about California is being shared, I’ll be listening in a removed way and then all of sudden think: Oh. I live in California! This story is relevant to my life! I’m a Californian!

And then I think something along the lines of: That is so strange.

A related thing happens when Ben Blair is driving and I look up from the passenger seat and see a landscape or cityscape that is completely unfamiliar and think: We’ve only been in the car for two minutes, but I wasn’t watching where we are going and I have no idea where we are and would have to use GPS to even point myself in the right direction if I wanted to head home.

Basically, I’m in a funny situation where my home city and home state aren’t quite home yet. It’s not that I have regrets or complaints about moving here, it’s just that everything still feels so new and 7 months in I’m still playing catchup.

This really hit home during my trip to Washington D.C. (I’m still here in D.C., writing this from my hotel room and will head back home today.) On Tuesday, I had the chance to lobby the senators and representatives from my state on behalf of ONE.org. ONE is bipartisan so we were lobbying both republicans and democrats. As we were being briefed the day before, I experienced a moment of identity crisis. My thoughts were something like: I’m lobbying for California? I haven’t even registered to vote there yet. I’m still using my Colorado driver’s license. I have only a slight handle on Bay Area geography — on which cities are where. And I have no idea who my congresswomen/congressmen are!!

Luckily, California happens to have some famous names among our representatives (think Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer), so I actually do know many of my representatives, and my identity crisis was short lived. I reminded myself I was born in California and lived there till I was 5. I learned to speak my native language in California. Growing up, I spent time in California every year of my life and both of my parents were born and raised in California. So I have deep roots in my new-again state.

This trip has been a good reminder to me that it’s time to dive deep and really get to know my state and my city; to learn the problems and passions of California and of Oakland specifically, and to care (or care more) about the outcomes of propositions and proposals that affect my slice of the country.

It also made me curious: Have you ever been in the same state-of-mind that I am in now? Have you ever been surprised that you are a resident of the state/country/city you reside in? Have you ever felt like a resident of no place at all — sort of detached from where you live? I imagine not everyone experiences this sort of thing. Where do you consider yourself a resident of? What are your thoughts?

P.S. — I’ll give a full report of my trip to Washington later this week (or possibly next week.) But have to tell you how lovely it was when it snowed yesterday. The flakes were giant and fluffy and since Oakland doesn’t experience the sort of winter I’m accustomed to, it was a treat to have snowflakes on my nose and eyelashes.

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By Gabrielle.

I know of two people who live in Lake Como, Italy: George Clooney and Cristina Cavallari. Lucky for us, one of them is with us today to take us on a tour of her family’s unique home: a monastery built in the 1400s that’s been modernized, transformed, and constantly reconfigured to hold lots of family.

There’s so much that’s interesting to me about this tour, from the idyllic location to Cristina’s commitment to ethical and organic products, the grace with which she’s preparing for her eldest’s move away from home, to a tragic circumstance that has changed her life in the past year. And when I read her thought about how she is raising her kids – “More real friendships, less internet” – my heart sang! It’s inspiring stuff, all of it, and I’m so grateful to be able to share it with you today. Friends, please give a rousing Benvenuto to Cristina! (And just as soon as Mr. Clooney has some babies, we’ll hit him up for a tour, too!)

Q: Please tell us all about this Italian family!

A: Hello! My name is Cristina Cavallari, and I live with my husband Paolo and our three kids: Miriana (19), Noa (14), Zoe (seven), plus two crazy cats called Matisse and Piggy.

Miriana is a strong creative young woman trying to determine her role in this family. Noa is a young man mad about sport, ironic, and sweet. Zoe is only seven, but she is smart and perceptive. She is practicing artistic gymnastic, always jumping, and draws with passion.

You’ve got to see the loft bedroom – it’s the coolest!

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